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Monday, January 9, 2012

Food Aggressive Dogs - Not Us

As I process applications and talk with potential adopters I have many tell me one of the things they "do not" want is food aggression. The dog does not just suddenly decide to be food aggressive and a lot has to do with how (or if) you train your dog/s. Dogs from birth lay right next to each other and share teat's of the mother. If they get possessive mom will do an immediate correction. Our dogs are not food aggressive and they eat right next to each other just like when they were pups. Some people just dump kibble in 'their' dog bowl and walk away. Then months or years later they go to reach for that bowl and the dog growls at them and they wonder why their dog has suddenly become food aggressive. What is wrong with that dog anyway? The fact is it has claimed that bowl and food all along but the dog owner simply has not paid close enough attention to realize it. The dog owner also has neglected their responsibility in properly training the dog.

Resident dogs who are kept outside have the owner come out once a day and pour kibble in their bowl and leave. That bowl becomes theirs alone and they defend and protect it. Not much different with inside feeding, people do the very same thing. We train every aspect of our dogs lives including eating time. They are fed three times a day and it is an orderly process. Here is how we handle the feeding. They eat side by side, all at the same time and there is no problem allowed in the process. If there is it is corrected by myself or Carol instantly.

They are made to sit far enough back from the preparation of their food and bowls to know that I am the one doing the preparation and don't want to be crowded or disturbed while I get their bowls ready. Each dog gets its food measured out, supplements depending on need added, and I'm given the freedom to do it without being crowded. I then take the bowls of dog food to the shelf they eat on and sit them down one at a time. Should a dog start forward before being told they are made to go back and all dogs then wait until I can tell they have calmed down. I stand between them and the food and do not tell them to come until each dog has made full eye contact with me. I then stay with them while they eat. Sometimes I will reach down and move (not take away) their bowl or hold it while they eat so it doesn't move around. I'll also reach into their bowl on occasion take out some food and feed them that food by hand. What this tells them is that it is my bowl, my food and as their pack leader I'm sharing it with them.

On the rare occasion one may sample someone else;s bowl I am right there to make it understood that too is my bowl, my food and I don't want them to do that. I don't scold, only give a pssst, and if needed a finger poke in the shoulder to distract. I have never had one dog growl at another one - instead they will look to me to see if I have permitted that. After they eat they are expected to leave the bowl, leave the room and let the others finish in peace. Sarah is a slow and particular eater so she is always the last one to leave. I learned this technique from Cesar Milan the dog whisperer, in one of his books. I have modified it somewhat but the basic principal is the same. Our room is narrow and I will not tolerate pandemonium when it is eating time. They fully understand that.

So how do you tell an applicant the dog is not normally food aggressive but it is their lack of understanding and laziness to find out how to properly feed the dog that is the problem. It never ceases to amaze me that people comment about how our dogs are so well behaved, don't bark, get along so well, are gentle and how they wish their dog could be like that. Our dogs haven't gotten that way without a lot of work. Theirs have never been worked with in most instances. dump some food in their bowl and walk away or go to the other side of the room. Really what do you expect anyway? People now want a fully trained, obedient and well behaved family member without having to put out the effort themselves. Perhaps that is why designer dogs are now so popular where traits are blended.

The dog comes hard wired to be a good companion and pack member. The problem rests with the people who are to lazy to learn training techniques, or expend the effort to get that obedient dog that they desire so much. They are so used to being able to order exactly what they want and they fail to understand that with dogs it takes training, skill, and patience and lots of love. Don't ever try to out love a dog, you will come up short every time but you do have to demonstrate to they you do love them. That can be done by being a good responsible pack leader. Maybe that is why I'm reading now that those 'gift' dogs that people bought for Christmas are being dumped at shelters. So many good dogs, so many idiots, with so little patience and love. So if you have a food aggressive dog consider it may be your fault, not the dogs. The longer they are allowed to be food aggressive the harder it is to break that behavior. Our dogs also do not get fed from the table. They may carefully come over and sniff but never touch or lick our food. Incidentally those who want to adopt a dog to give it a good 'loving' home but then have a list of attributes they want in a dog do not get my approval. Those who claim to be good trainers but then want a non food aggressive dog get even less consideration. Some people actually would do better with one of those robot dogs made in Japan or an internet virtual dog in my opinion. So maybe that behavioral problem your dog has is not the dog after all, but you instead. Some people are just not suited to adopt, and don't understand why they don't get a dog. If you tell them they fight and argue and don't listen. So if you are the center of the universe enjoy your time there because it is unlikely that I would approve you to adopt a dog.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

This is GREAT Bruce!! I'm impressed!! I would love for you to share this with my list please!! Barbara